Ancient and modern

The northern powerhouses of ancient Turkey

If George Osborne and the northern cities want a model of how to interact, they should read inscriptions about Antiochus III

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

30 May 2015

9:00 AM

Government claims that it will ‘free’ northern cities to turn themselves into ‘powerhouses’. Since most of them are held by Labour, this is obviously nonsense. The tedious tribal backbiting and recriminations will continue as usual. There is a better way.

When Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 bc, the Greek generals he had left in charge of his vast empire all began scrapping to become the next Alexander. Eventually they gave up, leaving three main power blocs: Greece, Egypt and Asia. It is the relationship between Antiochus III, the ‘great’ king of Asia (242–187 bc), and the fractious, freedom-loving Greeks living in western Turkey, that provides a model for how things might be done.


Numerous stone inscriptions from Antiochus to various cities make it clear that Antiochus will put up with no rebellions. At the same time, they offer the hand of friendship and support. Part of one to Herakleia in southwestern Turkey reads: ‘We will make certain that all measures will be taken that benefit you… On your part, you will do well to keep the king’s interests at heart so that we will have no reason not to do all we can to preserve your city’s reputation and honour.’ Action followed. One town received 40 tons of wheat a year, the income from which was to support dowries for daughters of the poor, another received help with reconstruction after earthquakes, in another, ‘foreign judges’ would be invited in to settle difficult disputes, and so on.

And the cities responded in kind. One listed the king’s many benefactions and, ‘to show our gratitude … and surpass ourselves in honours for them in relation to benefactions’, announced the setting up of cult-images of Antiochus and his wife in the temple of Dionysus.

There is an elegant mutuality about these many inscriptions, a sense of interaction for advantage on both sides. Such a relationship between Tory government and Labour ‘powerhouses’ would be far more beneficial than the usual vilification.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
  • dalai guevara

    “Government claims that it will ‘free’ northern cities to turn themselves
    into ‘powerhouses’. Since most of them are held by Labour, this is
    obviously nonsense.”

    Haven’t laughed this hard in ages.

  • Tom M

    Perhaps if Antiochus had paid more attention to beating the Romans instead of creating a welfare state he might have survived longer.

  • Turkey was not Turkey back then.

    It was Anatolia and the Turks were not there.

    The Turks were still back in their central Asian homelands.

    Just such a mistake in history as today.

    Because there is a movement by Labour for an independent nation of north of England, separate from London rule.

    Here is one such petition just started:

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/cumbria-to-secede-from-england-and-the-name-changed-back-to-cumberland

    Meanwhile, other northerners are campaigning to be ruled as a devolved part of Scotland.

    Shown by an article in the Independent:

    …”A campaign to make Manchester part of Scotland has gathered momentum after a surprising 72 per cent of respondents voted in favour of secession.

    The results of an online poll conducted by the Manchester Evening News revealed that thousands of people want the city to be ruled from Edinburgh, rather than London.
    Because otherwise Labour will never rule in England again.”…

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/manchester-set-to-become-part-of-scotland-10250453.html

    The petition on Change.org is titled:
    “Allow the north of England to secede from the UK and join Scotland.”
    Has 44,000 plus signatures so far.

    https://www.change.org/p/the-uk-government-allow-the-north-of-england-to-secede-from-the-uk-and-join-scotland

    But this is not fair.

    What about the Midlands as far as south of Birmingham please?

    I’m in Staffordshire just north of Birmingham. I would go tomorrow. Where do I sign?

    Do keep up please.

    The Swans new party
    http://www.theswansnewparty.org.uk

    A party for England or maybe a devolved part of Scotland
    that includes the Midlands and all the north of England?

    Or even a devolved Orkneys and The Shetland?

    You tell me.

    Click the red button on me page for more pages.

Close